U.Va. Law Symposium to Explore Conflicts in Global Legal Norms

February 02, 2012

February 2, 2012 — Harold Hongju Koh, the legal adviser of the U.S. Department of State, will headline a symposium on transnational law at the University of Virginia School of Law.

Koh, one of the country's leading experts in public and private international law, national security law and human rights, will deliver the keynote speech at the symposium, "Conflicts of Interest: Resolving Differences in Global Legal Norms," on Feb. 10 in Caplin Pavilion.

The conference – organized by the student-run Virginia Journal of International Law and the John Bassett Moore Society of International Law – will explore how to resolve conflicting legal norms found in the United States and abroad, particularly as domestic laws extend their reach beyond countries' borders.

"Although domestic and foreign legal norms have always interacted, the particular issues that will be addressed during our 2012 symposium have yet to be given significant attention in legal scholarship," said third-year law student Zach Torres-Fowler, managing editor of the Virginia Journal of International Law. "The topics selected for the event not only piqued our interests, but were especially timely given international legal developments."

Koh will offer an insider's glimpse at how the federal government addresses conflicts between domestic and foreign laws, Torres-Fowler said.

"Not only is Mr. Koh recognized as one of the pre-eminent scholars in the field of international law, but through his current position as the legal adviser to the State Department, he is able to provide valuable insight into the interplay between domestic U.S. law and transnational legal norms," he said.

President Obama nominated Koh to his current position in March 2009, and he was confirmed by the Senate in June 2009. A former dean of Yale Law School and now on leave as a professor there, Koh previously served in the State Department during the Clinton administration as assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor.

In addition to Koh's talk, the symposium will feature a number of panel discussions on topics such as international anti-bribery laws; libel "tourism," a practice in which plaintiffs shop their lawsuit to the country with the most advantageous libel laws; and the U.S. federal courts' deference – or lack thereof – to the decisions of foreign courts (full schedule below).

The event is open to the public; parking will be available in the Law School's D-2 lots on the day of the symposium.

The schedule:

Friday, Feb. 10
(All events located in Caplin Pavilion unless noted.)

• 8-9 a.m. Check-In/Breakfast

• 9-9:10 a.m. Opening Remarks

• 9:10-10:30 a.m. Jurisdictional Conflicts of International Anti-Bribery Laws
The recent enactment of the U.K. Bribery Act and other anti-bribery statutes in countries around the world raises questions about how enforcement agencies should interact in order to increase efficiency and limit over-deterrence. Are there reforms that could be instituted to curb multiple prosecutions of a single defendant? How instructive are the conflicts between the various antitrust regimes? Should a principle similar to double jeopardy apply to limit multiple enforcement actions of anti-bribery laws? How should deferred prosecution agreements be treated across jurisdictions? The scheduled panelists include:

• Richard N. Dean, partner, Baker & McKenzie

• Elizabeth K. Spahn, professor of law, New England School of Law

• Paul B. Stephan, John C. Jeffries, Jr., Distinguished Professor of Law, U.Va. School of Law

• Moderator: John C. Harrison, James Madison Distinguished Professor of Law, U.Va. School of Law

• 10:40 a.m.-noon. Sovereign Equality of Nations in the Federal Courts U.S. federal court

U.S. federal courts frequently apply legal doctrines such as the Act of State doctrine and the doctrine of foreign sovereign immunity, which call for deference to the decisions of sovereign governments. In other instances, the U.S. federal courts are far more willing to question and evaluate sovereign decisions under the doctrine of "forum non conveniens" when deciding whether to enforce a foreign court's judgments. The potential whipsaw effect caused by these varying standards in the U.S. federal courts has been readily apparent in cases such as Aguinda v. Texaco Inc., in which a group of Ecuadorian plaintiffs sought massive damages for an environmental tort that occurred allegedly at the hands of Chevron. Given the inconsistent approach taken by the U.S. courts in evaluating foreign judicial systems, how should domestic laws treat foreign sovereign governments and institutions? Also, what repercussions might be expected from the ongoing Aguidna v. Texaco Inc. litigation and other alien tort statute suits? The scheduled panelists include:

• Roger P. Alford, professor of law, Notre Dame Law School

• Donald Earl Childress III, associate professor of law, Pepperdine University School of Law

• Peter B. Rutledge, professor of law, University of Georgia School of Law

• Moderator: Kenneth Anderson, professor of law, American University Washington College of Law

• Noon-1 p.m. Moderator and Panelist Luncheon (Stone Dining Room; invited guests)

• 1-2 p.m. Keynote Speech by Harold Hongju Koh, Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State

• 2:10-3:30 p.m. Shopping for Libel?
Although many questions regarding the enforcement of libel tourism judgments in the United States have been largely resolved by the Free Speech Protection Act of 2010, a number of residual issues remain. Most concerning is that libel tourism still carries the very real threat of deterring certain forms of speech, even in the United States. Are there other avenues the U.S. Congress could pursue to limit libel tourism? How proactive should the United States be in attempting to prevent this form of forum shopping? Are there any gray areas within the Free Speech Protection Act of 2010 that make its application less than straightforward? The scheduled panelists include:

• David A. Anderson, Fred & Emily Marshall Wulff Centennial Chair in Law, University of Texas School of Law

• Bruce D. Brown, partner, Baker & Hostetler

• Mark D. Rosen, professor of law, Chicago-Kent College of Law

• Moderator: Leslie Kendrick, associate professor of law, U.Va. School of Law

• 3:30-3:45 p.m. Closing Remarks

• 3:45-5 p.m. Reception




Media Contact

Brian McNeill

School of Law